How Does the Group Guard Against Expected Criticism?
A member of the Holic Group will hardly conclude that she or he is in a cult. For one thing, several typical features which one would normally expect to find in a cult are missing: a particular name, a strongly articulated hierarchy with an all-surpassing founder, a worldwide operation which serves to enrich the leader, etc. For another thing, the group works preemptively, but usually subliminally, to dismiss the idea that it is a cult. So the group notes, in passing, that Jesus and His disciples were also labeled a cult of the New Way. Or they give the example of two Austrian siblings in the Holic Group, who thought that they were in a cult, but then recognized how nonsensical this thought was – at which telling they laugh exaggeratedly.
In the meantime, Holic members react with peevishness and even explicit anger when people speak of their group as a “cult.”
Criticism from churches, too, or from parents (as can also be observed in the cases of other cults) is given a
correspondingly negative connotation: the church is opposed because it represents competition, and because the church, as something which has fallen away from the Bible, sees the true community in the Holic Group. Parents are assumed to have selfish motives like self-pity, the desire to hold on to their children (“I (your child) am merely your idol!”), or refuse to organize their life according to the Bible. The devil himself is sometimes at work, too, allegedly standing behind the critics and their actions.
At least at the beginning, a relatively large fluctuation in the group was observed. Some members left after a time, because the lifestyle was too radical and strenuous. Above all, the long missionary trips on weekends, and the evenings during the week, were experienced as wearing.
But generally it is known that “falling away” is presented as one of the worst sins. Corresponding phobias of eternal damnation are fueled by the Holic Group. (See, in this connection, the letter to “fallen away” members.) Former members recount this, too, as a “gigantic fear,” to which they saw themselves subjected in their time of doubt. The group would even rather accept the idea that emerging psychological problems drove a person to suicide. A former member reported that the statement was made: “It is better that he die than that he fall away.”